The Government should use its shareholding in Aer Lingus to prevent Ryanair from taking control of the airline, Fianna Fáil Transport Spokesperson Timmy Dooley has said.

Deputy Dooley said: “The existence of Ryanair and Aer Lingus as separate competing entities has transformed our tourism and business connectivity. Any material change to the separate status of these airlines would inevitably lead to reduced competition, increased fares and less choice.

“Ryanair has provided good competition in the Irish market for many years. Its business model has resulted in cheaper fares and helped grow the Irish tourism market. What we don’t want is to see a reversal of this position.

“Our exports and tourism sectors will be central to the recovery of the Irish economy. Competitive air access to key destinations including access to major transfer hubs is a vital piece of the jigsaw in facilitating business connections and tourist access.

“The Government’s short-sighted position of not attaching a strategic status to the State’s shareholding in Aer Lingus has signalled an opportunity for Ryanair. It is now incumbent on the Government to protect Ireland’s interests. As an island nation we need a strong competitive aviation sector and two separate competing airlines is the best way of achieving that.”